Martian Ghost Centaur

Oni. Mar. 2021. 192p. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781620108499.
Gr 7 Up–Seventeen-year-old Louie O’Connor loves her hometown, the once thriving, now dying tourist destination of Southborough, CA. Before Louie was born, a Sasquatch sighting attracted visitors, but enthusiasm has waned, and techie Leef Smith swoops in, eager to take advantage of the cheap land to build his start-up headquarters. Louie fears for her community, especially her parents’ restaurant, Squatch Burger, where she works, so she and her best friend, Felix, team up to introduce a new creature that’s sure to draw attention; along the way, she learns important lessons as she feuds and then makes up with Felix and realizes that her Squatch Burger job doesn’t define her. Louie is white, Felix is Latinx, and there are numerous BIPOC secondary characters; the story also offers queer representation via multiple same-sex couples, including Louie’s fathers. Time lapses are generally conveyed through text boxes, but some transitions are unlabeled and rushed, and pacing can be uneven. Still, the distractions don’t detract from the narrative, and clever jokes and cultural references from the past two decades are sprinkled throughout. Basic color block backgrounds focus on the highly expressive and comedic character reactions, giving the tale a playful feel as it leads to the reveal of the titular character.
VERDICT Readers will appreciate this campy adventure that has touches of “Scott Pilgrim” and “Lumberjanes” and ends on a valuable message about maintaining boundaries between work and identity.

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